Pauao Ridge (Trail Clearing) - July 10, 2011

So, it's open. Finally. I scouted Pauao Ridge back in October 2008. It was choked with uluhe back then, but just recently, a group of hikers decided to reopen the path.  It took the group eight long outings to clear the entire ridge, and now that it's wide open, it is hoped that the ridge will get regular hiker traffic to ensure its sustainability. The last HTMC outing along this ridge was in 2004.  All the recent hard work may finally pay off as the club might add Pauao to the club schedule once again.  Although I haven't climbed the entire ridge to the Ko'olau summit, this could possibly be one of the nicest, advanced ridge trails on the island. Pauao Ridge is a strenuous, ungraded ridge trail to the Ko'olau summit. It's goes up and down multiple times until the last steep approach to the summit.  Now that Pauao is cleared, it opens up several alluring options along the KST.  Schofield-Waikane, Waikane, and Poamoho trails are very close in proximity, creating the possibility of epic day hikes along the best windward contour section along the KST.  There are views in every direction of Punalu'u Valley and Kahana Valley, with the surrounding peaks of Pu'u Piei, Pu'u Manamana, Kanehoalani, Pu'u O Kila, and Ohulehule.

Want to help keep it open?  Here's how to get there:
The trail starts in Kahana Valley.  Walk on the paved road.  You'll see a hunter check in box.  Keep to the road on the right and go around a gate.  Walk until you reach a watertank.  A trail will veer off to the right and uphill.  Follow the ribbons.  The trail will immediately start climbing to reach the crest of Pauao.  Once at the ridge crest, turn left and follow the ridge all the way to the Ko'olau summit.

Read the past report of my 2008 outing along Pauao Ridge by clicking the following link:
Pauao Ridge - October 18th, 2008

At the back of Punalu'u Valley looking toward the ocean.

On the ridge.

Kahana Valley to the right.  Punalu'u Valley to the left.  Pu'u Piei in the middle.

Looking into the back of Kahana Valley, with Ohulehule to the left.

Pu'u Pauao in the distance.

A carving of my name back in 2008.


Kaupo 3 - August 6, 2011

Nate Rubio and I hiked the third ridge of Kaupo Cliffs this past Saturday. We had another hike planned, but it would've taken way too long, and Nate needed to be at work by 2:30pm, so a shorter hike had to suffice. I hiked from Kaupo 2 to Tom-Tom last September with Nate Yuen, Ryan Chang, Duc Ong, and Matt Chessey. Before that trek, Nate Yuen and Justin Ohara repaved the old Hawaiian route and it is now done more than often since it was exposed on the internet. In fact, there now is an actual trail leading to the base of the cliffs. Compared to the last time I hiked Kaupo, the trail is now wide open, marked, and very easy to follow.

Back in September, as I hiked up Kaupo 2, I couldn't help but notice the ridge to the right, Kaupo 3. It was obviously steep just like Ridge 2, but what set Kaupo 3 apart from Kaupo 2 were several daunting rock faces. Doable? I didn't know. So I put it on my bucket list of trails to attempt and nothing really materialized. Soon after completing Kaupo 2, several groups tackled the same route. It wasn't before long that Kaupo 3 was completed by others as well, proving its "doability."

The climb up Kaupo 3 is short but very steep. A lot of contouring and slabbing was involved to progress further, making it a "trial-and-error" type of trek to the KST. The condition of the rock faces along the ridge varies from brittle to solid, so testing everything we grabbed and stepped on was essential. I had one close call at a contour section around a certain rock face where I was standing on a narrow spot blanketed with pine needles. I slipped on the needles and fell about eight feet downhill, miraculously finding a tree (the only one) to grab onto to pull myself back up. Had there not been a tree, I would've slid down a couple more feet off a ledge. Got scraped a bit on my arms, but at least I'm still alive. Falling off would've been lights out for me. The ridge eventually meets up with the Kaupo 2 trail and then tops out at a point along the KST. From there we headed west, hit some powerline towers, and descended the Tom-Tom trail. Total time: three hours.

For more pictures and details, check out Nate Rubio's report of the hike by clicking the following link:

For more info and write-ups about Kaupo Cliffs, visit the following links:
Refinding Kaupo Cliffs by Nate Yuen
Kaupo Cliffs - Kaufaux Cliffs by Nate Yuen
Kaupo Cliffs to Tom-Tom - September 19th, 2010

photo: D. Napoleon

photo: N. Rubio

photo: D. Napoleon

photo: N. Rubio

Up, up, up.  (photo: N. Rubio)

photo: N. Rubio

photo: N. Rubio

Nate Rubio's video edit:


Poamoho to Wahiawa - July 24, 2011

Hiked from Poamoho Ridge to Wahiawa Heights last weekend. It was cold, rainy, muddy, and wild. In terms of beauty, not many hikes can touch this one. The route traverses some of the most remote and undeveloped terrain on the island of Oahu, with an incredible two mile walk along the Ko'olau summit trail. Exactly how awesome was it? Unforgettably awesome: in fact, the route is so awesome, that we all agreed to do it every year for as long as we're still alive and able to hike. Yeah, it's that beautiful.

Poamoho Ridge is a gem among all Oahu state trails. It's located in one of the most desolate areas on Oahu in the the Ewa Forest Reserve. It's short, it's easy, and it tops out at arguably the best view on the island. It also is home to many native Hawaiian plants. Poamoho Ridge is a graded trail, meaning it is cut below the crest of the ridge, making for relatively easy walking all the way to the Ko'olau summit without feeling much elevation gain. To hike the Poamoho trail, a permit must obtained from the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The permit allows access to a six mile dirt road and three locked gates. The gate combinations are supposedly changed every week; the combos are listed on the permit for the week that is chosen. The road, used primarily by hunters, passes a large ranch and heads deep into the Ko'olau mountain range. As of July 2011, the road is in very good shape. A two-wheel drive vehicle could make it, however, a particular section near the end of the road may be tricky when it's wet.

Our day started at 7am at the top of California Avenue in Wahiawa. From there we staged two vehicles, jumped in Brian Bautista's truck, and was shuttled by his dad all the way to the Poamoho Ridge trailhead just before the military gate on Pa'ala'a Uka Pupukea Road. The weather was overcast and surprisingly cool for a summer day in July. The tradewinds were blowing, and the mountains looked ominous with wispy, silk-like clouds basking the peaks along the Ko'olau summit.

At around 8am, we reached the official Poamoho trailhead and parted ways with Brian's dad who then drove the truck back out. The trail was muddy but very groomed. En route we passed two hunters and several of their hunting dogs. Superb views of the Waianae Mountain Range and the Mokuleia coastline could be seen. We paralleled Poamoho Gulch to the south and could see Poamoho Stream flowing audibly. At a certain point, the rain started to come down hard, making for even muddier conditions all the way to the summit. I was envious at the sight of Nate, Christina, and Daniel donning rain gear; Brian and I were without jackets. At around 10:40am, we reached the summit, only to be completely socked in with no chance of a view of the windward side. It was cold and very wet.

After a short break at the Poamoho summit, we turned right along the Ko'olau Summit Trail and hiked through the muddiest terrain I have ever hiked in. Skirting mudholes were impossible, so walking in the mud, at times shin high, was the norm. The rain was in full force, and the trail turned into a flowing river, with shin high waterfalls trickling at our feet as we gained and loss elevation. After about twenty minutes of walking we reached the Poamoho Cabin, doors unlocked. I was surprised at the condition of the shelter. It was clean, cozy, and harbored everything needed to survive. Water catchment behind the cabin flowed underneath the cabin in a PVC pipe with a spigot at its end. Inside the cabin at the far wall were four bunks complete with mattress pads, sleeping bags, and pillows. Large plastic boxes in the cabin contained food (rice, bread, trail mix, peanut butter and jelly, etc.), cooking supplies (pans, pots, portable stoves, etc), and clothing. There was a bench, folding chairs, a radio, a deck of playing cards, and even mouthwash. By mountain standards, the cabin was more like a hotel, far from rundown, but far from what Paris Hilton would be satisfied with. A log book near the window contained writings of previous visits by other hikers. Lots of stories of rat poo and cockroaches, but we didn't see any. The last entry was around May 28-30, 2011, Memorial Day Weekend. We jotted our names down, took a half hour break to wait out the rain, and headed back out on the summit trail at about noon.

A few short sections of trail along the muddy and vegetated leeward side soon made its way to a small meadow. The trail then switched to the windward side. The initial windward section is unbelievably clear, and it would be safe to say that you could actually ride a mountain bike on it, though I don't recommend it because there are large drops to the windward that could prove fatal if someone fell. Still in the clouds with an occasional downpour, we trekked the windward section all way to Pu'u Pauao. It was at Pu'u Pauao where the clouds finally lifted and we were able to see the amazing views over looking Punalu'u Valley and Kahana Valley. I pointed out to the others the section of trail along Pauao Ridge that Daniel and I helped clear several weeks prior. I double-ribboned the intersection of Pauao Ridge and the KST, and we then headed for the final windward stretch to the top of the Schofield-Waikane trail.

In relation from Poamoho to Pauao, the stretch between Pauao and Schofield-Waikane was far more overgrown. Uluhe, palms, and clidemia choked the trail, making for slow progress to the Schofield-Waikane junction. We also encountered three large washouts, all of which were the only dangerous sections along the entire hike. The first washout was a steep descent over crumbly and slippery rock. The second was a narrow walk on loose dirt. The third washout was a minor, narrow hump over unstable ground.

At 2:30pm, we finally reached the top of the Schofield-Waikane trail and had lunch. As happy as we were to make it to top of the Schofield-Waikane trail, we still had seven more miles of hiking to reach the top of Wahiawa Heights. We started our descent down Schofield-Waikane at 3pm at a brisk pace. The walk down Schofield-Waikane was uneventful except for moments of heavy rain that kept us cool the whole way. At 4:50pm, we reached the East Range military road, and were back at the top of California Avenue at 5:50pm. Total distance: a little over twelve miles. Total time: nine hours and forty minutes.

To do Poamoho Ridge, visit the following website:
Na Ala Hele - Poamoho Ridge Trail

To get access for Schofield-Waikane, visit the following website:
Na Ala Hele - Schofield-Waikane Trail

To see past write-ups along the Schofield-Waikane trail, click on the following links:
Schofield-Waikane Trail - July 5th, 2009
Kaukonahua Stream (North Fork) - March 28th, 2010

On the Poamoho trail.  (photo: B. Bautista)

Looking into Poamoho Gulch and stream.  (photo: B. Bautista)

photo: B. Bautista

Looking toward Kaena Point.  (photo: D. Napoleon)

photo: N. Rubio

In the clouds.  (photo: B. Bautista)

Plaque at the Poamoho summit indiacting the mileage to other points along the Ko'olau Summit Trail.  (photo: D. Napoleon)

Cold, windy, rainy, and in the clouds at the Poamoho summit.  (photo: B. Bautista)

This is how the view from the Poamoho summit should look on a clear day.  This photo was taken in November 2010.  (photo: B. Bautista)

Heading south along the KST.  (photo: N. Rubio)

The Poamoho Cabin.  (photo: N. Rubio)

On the Poamoho Cabin porch.  (photo: B. Bautista)

Poamoho Cabin log book.

On the leeward side of the KST.  (photo: N. Rubio)

photo: D. Napoleon

photo: N. Rubio

photo: D. Napoleon

photo: B. Bautista

photo: D. Napoleon

photo: N. Rubio

photo: B. Bautista

photo: N. Rubio

What a view.  (photo: B. Bautista)

photo: B. Bautista

photo: N. Rubio

At the Schofield-Waikane terminus.  (photo: B. Bautista)

Looking toward the Waianae Mountain Range and our long way back down to Wahiawa.  (photo: B. Bautista)

Nate Rubio's version: